There is a hideous irony in western-raised jihadis murdering Coptic Christians for being ‘crusaders’

Relatives of the victims before their murder (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Yesterday’s atrocity is shocking even for the depraved standards of post-Arab Spring religious violence, all the more shocking because it was carried out for nakedly sectarian reasons – the men were killed simply for being Christian. Their names are listed below.


Just as James Foley was murdered by a Londoner, one of the killers from yesterday’s atrocity spoke with a North American accent; there is great irony in western-raised jihadis murdering Middle Eastern Christians for being ‘crusaders’, seeing as how historically Christianity is far more Egyptian than it is western and the Copts opposed the Crusades. But I fear that self-awareness is not a great quality found in jihadis.

The Copts are not unused to mass killings; in April 1992, 14 were massacred in Asyut province by the Salafist Gama Islamiyya group (which later won over a dozen seats in the 2011 election); on New Year’s Day 2000, 21 Christians and one Muslim were killed in El-Koshesh, and the only person convicted of the atrocity was the one who had accidentally killed the Muslim. Another nine churchgoers were killed in Nah Hammadi in January 2010.

Those attacks were barely noticed in the West, whose media has been willfully ignorant about the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, but ISIS with their snuff videos have found a way to grab the world’s attention. (Likewise their persecution of Christians in Iraq, including the symbolic daubing of Christian houses, finally drew attention to that people’s plight.)

Egypt’s government has responded with force, well aware of the danger of Islamism, considering that country’s problem with extreme religious ideology. Europe should be worried too. ISIS now controls a land only 300 miles from Italy, yet what once would have called the Latin world is as incapable of dealing with the problem along its southern border as it is of dealing with the Russian problem on its eastern one. We may take ISIS’s threat to conquer Rome with some scepticism, but they’re not that far away now.

Our Government’s intervention in Libya, driven by a mixture of stupidity, greed and “something must be done” short-term politics, has proved in its own way a bigger disaster than the 2003 Iraq invasion. Libya’s lunatic dictator Gaddafi not only kept worse horrors at bay but his country also acted as a (brutal) border guard for Europe, without which southern Europe now resembles The Camp of the Saints.

Perhaps we should start thinking about a Chilcott enquiry for the West’s intervention in Libya, a disastrous adventure of which the 21 innocent Copts are the latest victims.